Quake evacuation planned
The northern province of Chiang Rai is preparing the possible evacuation of thousands of residents after several minor earthquakes in recent days, a disaster official said yesterday. Five quakes in four days, including two on Saturday, have worried residents in the province bordering Myanmar and Laos, especially those living in high rises, the provincial official said. While no damage or injuries have been reported from the quakes several buildings remain under investigation, the Chiang Rai Disaster Prevention and Mitigation office said. Chiang Rai may be in line for an earthquake of magnitude 6 on the Richter scale, but anything more than 4 could trigger an evacuation.
Floods leave 20 dead
Some of the worst flooding in southern Thailand in 40 years has left 20 dead, officials said yesterday. Rising flood waters have devastated several provinces along the border with Malaysia and the death toll is expected to rise, said Suvit Kaneelkul, chief of the southern Disaster Prevention and Rescue Center. In the past three days, 14 people were killed and two are missing in the area, while six people were killed in the province of Nakhon Srithammarat, Suvit said. The state Thai News Agency also reported that flash floods in 13 districts in Narathiwat province inundated the homes of 4,000 families.
War veto mooted
Defense Minister Najib Razak, speaking at an international peace forum, has called for democratic countries to give their citizens the right to decide whether they should go to war, reports said yesterday. Najib also received a 14-point document drafted by a committee of speakers, called the Kuala Lumpur Initiative to Criminalize War. The document included calls to criminalize all commercial and scientific activities that aid war, and for national leaders who initiate aggression to be subject to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
North Korea implicated
The families of four Malaysian women missing since 1978 will seek help from North Korea after US army deserter Charles Jenkins said he had seen one of them there, a Malaysian politician said. Michael Chong said he was assisting the families after Jenkins, who spent 40 years in North Korea, told a reporter that he met Malaysian woman Ying Ying Tai several times in Pyongyang some 25 years ago. The four Malaysians, together with a Singaporean woman, were last seen in 1978 boarding a cargo ship off Singaporean waters accompanied by three men.
■ South korea
Cloning pioneer quizzed
Investigators yesterday began questioning cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-suk and members of his research team amid allegations that he may have faked his landmark stem cell research, officials said. An investigation committee, launched two days ago by Seoul National University where he teaches, said its members visited Hwang's laboratory and began interviewing him and his researchers. A tight-lipped Hwang showed no emotion when he arrived at the university's veterinary school for the questioning for which some 20 researchers on his team were also called in.
■ United Kingdom
Valuable sculpture nabbed
Thieves with a flatbed truck and a crane snatched a 1.8-tonne Henry Moore bronze of a reclining figure from the grounds of the late sculptor's foundation north of London, police said on Saturday. The sculpture, valued at more than ?3 million (US$5.2 million), was stolen Thursday evening from the artist's Hertfordshire county estate, authorities said in a statement. "This is a very valuable statue and we are working closely with the Henry Moore Foundation to ensure its safe return," Detective Sergeant Graeme Smith of the Area Crime Unit said in the statement. "The foundation is offering a substantial reward for information leading to its recovery."